What to consider before applying for a trade mark

To maximise your chance of successfully registering a trade mark, here are some things to consider.

Make sure it's the right IP for you

A trade mark legally protects your brand and helps customers distinguish your products or services in the market. Trade marks can be used to protect a logo, phrase, word, letter, colour, sound and more.

If you want to protect:

Understand the different types of IP

Decide what type of trade mark you need

You'll need to consider how you want to present your trade mark and what elements you'd like to protect.

If you want to:

  • Trade mark a word, colour, shape, sound and more (on its own, or as part of a logo) — register it as a trade mark
  • Certify that your product meets a certain standard, holds a characteristic or is from a specific geographical region — register it as a certification trade mark.

You may need to file multiple applications to cover the different ways you want to use your trade mark.

Types of trade marks

Understand what can't be registered

There are certain words, phrases and images that can't be trade marked, or can only be registered under special circumstances.

You can't register:

  • Common words, phrases and images
  • Geographical names
  • Common surnames, even if they're your own
  • Prohibited signs
  • Restricted financial terms.

What can't be a trade mark? 

Pick the right classes

As part of your application, you'll need to pick the classes of goods and services that you'll use your trade mark for. There are 45 classes to pick from.

It's important to get this right because you'll only have exclusive rights to use your trade mark for the goods and services you list in your application. If you make a mistake, you won't be able to add new classes once you submit your application — you'll have to file a new application.

To give your trade mark the best chance, consider how you intend to use your trade mark, both in the short and long term, before you apply.

What are classes of goods and services?

Make sure your idea doesn't already exist

A trade mark can only be accepted if it's sufficiently different to others. You'll need to check there aren't any registered or pending trade marks that are:

  • Similar to yours in name and look
  • In the same or similar classes of goods and services.

How to search existing trade marks

Make sure your application is correct

To avoid wasting time and money, make sure your application is properly filled out and that your trade mark is valid.

Fees are non-refundable, regardless of the outcome of your application. This is because when you pay the application fee, you're paying for us to review your application — not to guarantee its success.

If you apply via a standard application, you'll only be able to make minor changes. If you need to make bigger changes, you'll need to submit a new application and pay the associated fees.

If you'd like to receive feedback on your trade mark application, consider using our pre-application assessment service, TM Headstart.

Get early feedback via TM Headstart

If you use TM Headstart:

  • You'll receive feedback from an examiner before you file your application so you can quickly understand if your trade mark is valid, and fix any errors
  • After receiving feedback, you have five business days to submit changes (or formalise your application). Most amendments will attract a fee
  • If your application is successful, your trade mark will be in effect from the date you formalise your application.

Total cost

Starts at $330. This is more than a standard application but could save you money in the long run, as applications filed with mistakes aren't refundable.

Find out about TM Headstart